The upcoming ODI World Cup warm-up encounter featuring Pakistan and New Zealand, scheduled for September 29 in Hyderabad, will be played in a closed stadium, without spectators due to security concerns.
The decision to bar entry to fans was after concerns were raised by local law enforcement agencies regarding the provision of adequate security measures for the event. Following the information from the local police, the Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA) promptly communicated this development to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), who confirmed the development on Monday.
The Indian Express first broke the news of the possibility of the game being held behind closed doors last week. The BCCI, four days later, confirmed that the fans who had bought tickets for the encounter would receive a full refund.
In a formal statement, the BCCI said, “The ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023 warm-up match between New Zealand and Pakistan scheduled to take place in Hyderabad on 29th September will now take place behind closed doors as per the advice of the local security agencies. The match in Hyderabad coincides with festivals on the day and large gatherings are expected around the city. The spectators who bought tickets for the game will receive a full refund.”
Pakistan to play in Hyderabad without spectators
The decision was taken after the local police confirmed they would fail to meet the stringent security prerequisites required by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for World Cup matches, including the warm-up matches.
The inability to provide security was because two significant religious festivals are taking place around the same date as the match. Security is increased in various parts of the city during festivals as huge crowd gatherings are expected, and Hyderabad police extended their failure to take on the responsibility of overlooking another crowd spectacle.
The BCCI were unable to change the match date or venue as broadcasting plans were already set, with Pakistan also being given visas for Hyderabad. As a result, they decided to play the game behind closed doors, which would require lesser security.
In August as well, the Hyderabad police were worried about security due to last-minute changes in the schedule, raising concerns over hosting two back-to-back matches on October 9 and 10. However, the request was turned down by the BCCI.
Hyderabad, along with Thiruvananthapuram and Guwahati, was chosen as one of the venues for the warm-up matches from September 29 to October 3. It will also host the Australia-Pakistan warm-up game on October 3. That encounter will have spectators.
Earlier, Pakistan had to cancel their bonding camp in Dubai after delays in visas from the Indian government. They have now received the documents and will fly to India on Wednesday.
The World Cup will officially start on October 5, with Pakistan playing their first game on October 6 against the Netherlands in Hyderabad.